hintsandthings.co.uk »Spare Room

Economical and personal Gifts and presents to make

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There is nothing nicer than receiving a gift which
someone has taken the trouble to make especially for you.  Here are some ideas which
don’t take much effort and certainly won’t break the bank!

Mouse Mat – Look in the fabric, craft or DIY
stores for the colourful 9″ x 12″ sheets of craft material called
“Foamies” or dense foam floor tiles (used for play areas etc.)  These can
be used as they are, thinner materials can be glued together or they can be decorated by
many different means (your imagination is the only limit).  Shapes can be cut out of
one tile and the hole filled with a piece of the same shape cut from a different colour

The original idea was sent in by Tim and Cheryl
– but it has endless possibilities.

Bath salts -Take a small glass jar with a cork, or
any suitable container that can be sealed, fill with Epsom Salts,
add a teaspoon of perfume and seal.  Shake and leave to
at least two weeks.  Tie a decorative ribbon on it and then give it to a friend.
  Alternatively, it can be given without the perfume but with instructions to add the
perfume of their preference.

Contributed by Mrs. Gore

Pomander – Take an
orange or lemon and some
whole cloves.
  Stick the sharp end of the cloves into the orange skin until the orange is
completely covered in cloves.  This is fairly time consuming and a bit hard on the
fingers.  Secure a ribbon around the orange and create a
loop by which to hang it.  This can then be hung in a cupboard or wardrobe to keep
clothes smelling lovely.

Spicy scent – Put
4 fl. oz (150ml) of rubbing alcohol
(surgical spirit) and 4
tablespoons of whole cloves
in a small jar and then add
teaspoon of orris root
.  Close the jar securely and shake.  Leave to sit
for two days, stirring occasionally.  Strain off the liquid, discard the solids and
transfer to a clean jar, cover tightly.  To use dab behind the ears or on your
wrists.  Store out of the reach of children.

Cologne  –  Pour
8fl oz. (225 ml) rubbing alcohol
(surgical spirit)
into a screw top jar add 8 tablespoons dried lavender flowers and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  Cover tightly for two days, shaking occasionally.  Strain and discard the
lavender flowers, then add the water and three drops of oil of
Close tightly.  This makes around 1 pint/570ml – enough for several

Personalised stationery
– Buy
some plain paper and envelopes
and either print each sheet with the recipient’s address using a computer or
stamp with a motif.  Rubber stamps can be purchased for this
purpose or made from potatoes, corks, sponge, wood etc.

Bubble Bath – Mix 16 fl oz (450
ml) liquid soap, together with 16fl,. oz (450ml)
inexpensive shampoo (or mild washing up liquid), 2 fl. oz. (60ml)
glycerine and a few drops of scented oil
or perfume.   Transfer the bubbly mixture into a
suitable attractive container.  About 8fl. oz (225ml) should be added to a bathful of

Clock – Make good use of those unwanted CDs.  Buy a
clock kit
(these can be purchased from hobby shops and are very reasonably priced). insert this into
the central hole, place hands on the front and, hey presto, you have a clock. These can be
personalised in many ways with photographs, magazine pictures, stickers etc. etc. A
present any teenager would welcome.

Marzipan strawberries  –
  Cut a 226 g. (8oz) packet of marzipan into small
pieces.  Make each piece the size you want the strawberry to be.  Roll each
piece into a ball between your hands and shape into a strawberry.  Make a hole in the
top for the leaf.  Dip each strawberry first into red food
, then into sugar making sure it is
completely covered.  Leave to dry.  Trace the strawberry leaf (a seven pronged
star) on to a fairly stiff green paper, insert one of the
“prongs” of the star shape into the hole in the strawberry. Alternatively, the
leaves can be made of marzipan rolled out thinly and cut into leave shapes then dipped
into green food colouring. Place sweets into an attractive airtight container such as a
screw top jar.



100 g. Digestive biscuits

175 g. Chocolate (any kind)

50 g. softened butter

50 g. icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Cocoa for coating.


Put biscuits into a plastic bag and crush using
a rolling pin or something similar.

Put chocolate into bowl and melt either over hot
water or in microwave.

Add the sifted icing sugar, softened butter and
biscuits to the chocolate mixture and mix well.

Place in refrigerator for ten minutes to chill.

Take about a teaspoon of this mixture and form
into a ball shape.

Roll into some cocoa powder and ensure
completely covered.


Wax disc mobile  – You
will need odd bits of different coloured candles, a glass of
water, matches, needle and thread.
  Fill a glass with water, light a candle, tip it sideways letting the hot wax drip
onto the surface of the water in the glass, it will set as it falls into the water. BE
  Keep dripping the wax onto the water, changing the colour of the candle as you go.
  When the whole surface of the water is covered, tip the water and wax disc gently
out of the glass.  Thread the needle, warm the tip in the candle flame and push it
through the wax disc.  Tie a knot in the cotton and hang the disc up against the
light.  Repeat this several times and hang the threads from a coat hanger or suitable
holder to make a mobile.

Marzipan dates
– You will need
a 226g (8oz) packet of marzipan, a box of
dates, almonds and
green food colouring.
  Cut a straight slit in each date and remove the stone.  Replace the stone with
a slightly bigger rolled piece of marzipan.  Put the almonds in very hot water, then
remove the skin.  Dip the almonds in green food colouring.  Leave them to dry.
  Then push one almond into each marzipan date.  Replace them into the date box
which can be decorated by painting or covering with paper.

Drip-Dry Coat Hanger – You will
need a wooden coat hanger, seven
, a drill, string, enamel paint, brush and white spirit.
  Measure the hanger and mark holes equally spaced about every 2 – 3 inches from the
centre, along the wooden hanger,  in pencil.  Drill holes with a No. 8 drill.
  Paint the hanger with two coats of paint.  Leave to dry.  Tie a knot in
the string, thread it through the first hole, then through the clothes peg, back through
the next hole, then next clothes peg and so on until the string has been threaded loosely
through every hole with a clothes peg in between.  Finish with a knot at the other
end.  The pegs can then be used for drip drying small articles of clothing.

Tray Tidy
– You will need a large wooden curtain ring or round handbag handle,
scissors, needle, thread, strong ribbon (1m (3ft) long x 4.5cm (2ins)
  Cut ribbon in half, put first piece of ribbon through the ring and sew
the ends together to make a loop.  Do the same with the second piece of ribbon.
  Tack the loops together just under the ring and slightly overlappying each other
(forming a “V” shape).  The tray tidy is then hung by the ring and the
trays slotted between the ribbon loops.


If you are feeling really ambitious visit
www.uniqueprojects.com it will show you how to
make some fascinating things, from woodworking to papercraft and from simple ideas to
challenging undertakings.